It’s still surreal to see Super Smash Bros Ultimate running on my Nintendo Switch after such a long wait. This game is amazing and it’s great to see the community so united early on in the games life. Tournament organizers have been hard at work for months in preparation for the game’s release. Many venues hosted day one events and tournaments. The most notable of these tournaments was the “Launch” tournament hosted by prominent Smash organization VGBootcamp.
With this being one of the first ever Smash Ultimate tournaments with many top players attending, the venue was packed. Over 160 people entered for singles alone, making this an absolutely stacked event. However singles weren’t the only events held at the event, with doubles and the new squad strike mode making an appearance. Squad strike is an amazing new mode, that had more entrants than doubles teams at the event. With this new mode and the dwindling numbers of viewers that doubles bring in, it begs the question. Do we really need doubles anymore?
Squad Strike changes the game
Squad Strike is a new mode in Smash Ultimate that allows players to assemble teams of three or five characters for battle. This can be done in either a tag team, or elimination style. Tag team has each fighter having only one stock, having the next in line seamlessly hop in when the other is defeated. Elimination follows the crew battle style where each matchup gets their own match, with the winner sticking around until they’re defeated. This mode is very fun to play, but it’s also very fun to spectate as well. It introduces a very interesting dynamic of character picking. The characters one player chooses can definitely be a huge factor in what characters their opponent picks.
Another interesting dynamic is being able to choose what order you send out a character, without your opponent knowing the order until the match is about to begin. This starts a bit of a guessing game as to what character order you pick. After the first match of a set, a player has to weigh the options of not only character choice, but also order. The implications of making the wrong choice could leave players in a tough spot, with a bad matchup. There is so much that goes into a Squad Strike set, that it makes for very entertaining Smash action. Simply put, Squad Strike is one of the most interesting modes to be added to Smash ever. But what does this mean for tournaments?
Weighing the options
It’s no surprise that singles play will always be the top dog at tournaments.
This is seen in both number of entrants and viewers. While doubles has been a staple in tournaments for over a decade now, it has definitely seen better days. Viewership for doubles in Smash 4 definitely saw a pretty steady decline throughout the games life cycle. This was because of factors like a lack of character diversity in brackets, and overall loss of interest in Smash 4 near the end. This along with the controversy surrounding Cloud in doubles, made many people question why the community even kept doubles around anymore.
There was a pretty decent turnout for doubles at Launch over the weekend. However this could likely be chalked up to interest in playing as much Ultimate in tournament as possible. Doubles isn’t a bad event at all, but it may need to go, and for a very tough reason.
Time is of the essence
I attended Launch over the weekend and had a great time competing. I competed in Singles and Squad strike, but not in doubles. After I was (tragically) eliminated from the bracket I stuck around and played friendlies and even did some commentary for a few squad strike sets.
I arrived at 12:30 PM, and the singles bracket started at around 1:00 PM. I left the venue at around 10:30 PM and to my surprise, top 48 singles wasn’t even close to being done. In fact Squad Strike was still in progress. I was exhausted after a long day of playing, but I had a great time.
You’re probably wondering what the point of that story was. In short, things took way too long to get wrapped up, and I don’t blame the T.Os. Having to do singles and doubles is already a long process, but now squad strike is here. Having long brackets of singles, doubles and Squad Strike made the tournament process extremely long, around 12 hours to be exact. Now the Xanadu venue usually stays open until midnight, but with side events still in progress at around 11:00 PM, I’d be surprised if they wrapped up on time. Having to stay at a venue that long can be quite taxing on a player. So how can we remedy this problem?
Now to give doubles the benefit of the doubt, this was a packed event for a new game; maybe I’m wrong and Squad Strike won’t catch on. However, it looks like the new mode has piqued the interest of many players. If time continues to be a problem at tournaments, doubles and Squad Strike might not be able to coexist.
What to do?
Tournaments should experiment with having an altered version of Squad Strike replace doubles. Maybe A 3V3 Squad battle with two teams of three each picking a character. This could be a great new alternative that still incorporates a team aspect to the game. Admittedly finding two teammates for a battle might be a bit of a hassle, but it could add a new dynamic to tournaments while also keeping them on schedule. Maybe even standard 1V1 Squad strike can do as a replacement. We could even see the events alternate between each other, tourney to tourney.
Doubles clearly plays second fiddle to singles in tournaments. Squad strike got the attention of players and viewers. Only time will tell. However if the mode proves to be more than just a gimmick it might be a good idea to have it become more than just an occasional side event.
Featured image courtesy of Siliconera.
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